‘There is no credible theory that relates starvation with an increased capacity to gain employment’

In the US a number of states have started to cut unemployment benefit even while unemployment remains high, and here in the UK, George Osborne thinks it is a good idea to lengthen the time newly unemployed people must wait before claiming benefits. At the same time, Jobcentre Plus will start hauling in about 50% of job seekers for weekly interviews. Many people suspect this is designed to find more excuses to sanction claimants and strip them of their benefits. This seems to rest on the theory that if the unemployed cannot rely on the state for subsistence levels of support, they will be more motivated to find work. As an antidote to that viewpoint, here’s an extract from a blog by Professor Bill Mitchell discussing the situation in the US. It equally applies here:

“…there is no credible theory that relates starvation with an increased capacity to gain employment when the economy is some millions of jobs short of the level necessary to provide work for all those who desire it.

Forget the smallest margin of unemployed who do not want to work. They are of a second-order of smallness that doesn’t warrant attention. The overwhelming majority (comprising millions of citizens) want to work but cannot find work because it is not to be found.

Why not? Because there is a lack of spending in the economy. Firms create employment in response to demand for their products. They might be confronted by millions of desperately hungry workers who have just had their benefits cut but they still won’t put them on because there is insufficient demand to justify expanding production.”

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12 thoughts on “‘There is no credible theory that relates starvation with an increased capacity to gain employment’

  1. Indeed. Another line from Bill in that article sums it up: “The view is entirely false and is illogical in theory and has no empirical support in practice.”

    1. Many of the working public, some of my colleagues included are being spoon fed the same stereotypical rubbish about claimants that will see the nation sleep walking into a moral catastrophe. It’s too convenient for some to ignore, but, people who cannot afford food, cannot afford any of the necessities to even look for work. Don’t anyone say they have legs unless you walk to work and believe by walking to find it all the nations unemployment issues will disappear. If people can’t afford bills, food, clothing how on earth are they expected to afford travel, or Internet costs or phone bills? This isn’t quantum physics. I will be saying I told you so if the continued ignorance to the daily warnings leads to the social disaster it’s going to. Has this nation lost its humanity and it’s common sense? I daren’t even answer that.

  2. The reason all this is happening is because each succeeding government has criminally failed in it’s very FIRST democratic rule of ELECTED office which is to democratically put the needs of ALL it’s citizens above ALL else.

  3. I completely agree with Ray. When the welfare reforms were at the planning stage the government either; failed to complete an objective and thorough impact assessment, did not include the target demographic in consultation, did not fully research all the available academic literature as to how similar reforms have resulted in other western democracies and how any lessons could be learned, problems overcome and a fair system implemented. I am not normally a prophet of doom and am reluctant to be dramatic but I do fear endemic severe poverty and this, in turn will impact further on the local health services and authorities already under massive strain.

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